Tennis great Pat Rafter has expressed regrets over his dealings with Bernard Tomic and concedes his four-year tenure as Davis Cup captain was largely unenjoyable.
A surprisingly subdued Rafter spoke on KIIS FM on Monday in response to Tomic’s controversial television interview on Sunday night.
In the interview, Tomic labelled two-time US Open winner Rafter as “not that much of a nice guy” and said that he likes to “put on a show”.
While not offering an olive branch to the troubled tennis player, Rafter felt he could have handled Tomic better during his time with Tennis Australia (TA) as Davis Cup captain and then head of performance.
“One of the things I said publicly was that he was pretty disgraceful out there,” Rafter said, recalling the aftermath of a US Open match Tomic played against Andy Roddick in 2012 when he appeared to tank in the third set.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. Maybe it should have been said between him and me.”
Rafter, who said he was brought in to make cultural changes by TA, thought things would play out a bit differently when he first started dealing with Tomic as an 18-year-old.
“… I thought at the time I could make some change, but I found out pretty quickly I couldn’t impact that,” Rafter said. “We see life a bit differently.
“So we are going to have disagreements and I was pretty vocal in that and he was pretty hurt by it.”
After a four-year stint as Davis Cup captain, Rafter moved on to head of performance at TA, quitting that post earlier this year.
He conceded he had a lot of difficulty dealing with the younger players.
“I realised I had no impact with these guys whatsoever. They couldn’t relate to me and I couldn’t relate to them,” he said.
All up it made for a difficult experience.
“It wasn’t enjoyable,” he said of the Davis Cup captaincy.
“I reckon I had one or two enjoyable ties out of the four years I did it for. It was just hard work and banging my head against the wall all the time.”
Rafter said he held no ill will towards Tomic, but admitted that he hadn’t spoken to the former world number 17 for a year.